Monday, July 31, 2006

domestic cat has many qualities

"Though far from being so general a favourite as the dog, the domestic cat has many qualities to recommend it to attention and regard, and some of the stories which I am going to tell you exhibit instances of instinctive attachment and gentleness which cannot be surpassed.
"Here is one of attachment, which will match with the best of those of the dog.
"A cat which had been brought up in a family became extremely attached to the eldest child, a little boy, who was very fond of playing with her. She bore with the most exemplary patience any maltreatment which she received from him--which even good-natured children seldom fail, occasionally, to give to animals in their sports with them--without ever making any attempt at resistance. As the cat grew up, however, she daily quitted her playfellow for a time, from whom she had formerly been
inseparable, in order to follow her natural propensity to catch mice; but even when engaged in this employment, she did not forget her friend; for, as soon as she had caught a mouse, she brought it alive to him. If he showed an inclination to take her prey from her, she anticipated him, by letting it run, and waited to see whether he was able to catch it. If he did not, the cat darted at, seized it, and laid it again before him; and in this manner the sport continued as long as the child showed any
inclination for the amusement.
"At length the boy was attacked by smallpox, and, during the early stages of his disorder, the cat never quitted his bed-side; but, as his danger increased, it was found necessary to remove the cat and lock it up. The child died. On the following day, the cat having escaped from her confinement, immediately ran to the apartment where she hoped to find her playmate. Disappointed in her expectation, she sought for him with symptoms of great uneasiness and loud lamentation, all over the house, till she came to the door of the room in which the corpse lay. Here she lay down in silent melancholy, till she was again locked up. As soon as the child was interred, and the cat set at liberty, she disappeared; and it was not till a fortnight after that event, that she returned to the well-known apartment, quite emaciated. She would not,
however, take any nourishment, and soon ran away again with dismal cries. At length, compelled by hunger, she made her appearance every day at dinner-time, but always left the house as soon as she had eaten the food that was given her. No one knew where she spent the rest of her time, till she was found one day under the wall of the burying-ground, close to the grave of her favourite; and so indelible was the attachment of the cat to her deceased friend, that till his parents removed to
another place, five years afterwards, she never, except in the greatest severity of winter, passed the night any where else than at the above-mentioned spot, close to the grave. Ever afterwards she was treated with the utmost kindness by every person in the family. She suffered herself to be played with by the younger children, although without exhibiting a particular partiality for any of them.

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